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Dilemmas of Reconciliation

Cases and Concepts

edited by Carol Prager & Trudy Govier

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ethics & moral philosophy, violence in society
list price: $44.99
also available: eBook
published: 2003

How can bitter enemies who have inflicted unspeakable acts of cruelty on each other live together in peace?

At a time in history when most organized violence consists of civil wars and when nations resort to genocidal policies, when horrendous numbers of civilians have been murdered, raped, or expelled from their homes, this book explores the possibility of forgiveness.

The contributors to this book draw upon the insights of history, political science, philosophy, and psychology to examine the trauma left in the wake of such actions, using, as examples, numerous case studies from the Holocaust, Russia, Cambodia, Guatemala, South Africa, and even Canada. They consider the fundamental psychological and philosophical issues that have to be confronted, offer insights about measures that can be taken to facilitate healing, and summarize what has been learned from previous struggles.

Dilemmas of Reconciliation is a pioneering effort that explores the extraordinary challenges that must be faced in the aftermath of genocide or barbarous civil wars. How these challenges of reconciliation are faced and resolved will affect not only the victims’ ability to go on with their lives but will impact regional stability and, ultimately, world peace.

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Editorial Reviews

''[A] timely collection of essays and case studies....Many of the essays are provocative and intriguing. Some of them demonstrate a profound willingness to address difficult and unwelcomed issues.''

— University of Toronto Quarterly--Letters in Canada 2003, Volume 74, number 1, Winter 2004/2005

''This vital collection challenges anyone living in a violent world--which means all of us--to consider when and how survivors can reconcile rather than recapitulate the violence. With cogent essays and detailed case studies, philosophers, political theorists, historians, and activists join here to move beyond platitudes into deep analysis of why and how acknowledgement of harm matters, and what kinds of peace-making and mediation can be justified and can actually address moral and psychic wounds. Important grounds for doubt and reasons for hope gathered here shed light on the past and offer illumination for the future.''

— Martha Minnow

''A brilliant mix of theoretical analysis and empirical case studies that brings out clearly and concisely the political, legal, economic, and psycho-social dimensions of post-conflict reconciliation.''

— Howard Adelman

''The variety of issues, disciplinary approaches and levels of inquiry represented in this book makes it interesting and instructive reading for postgraduate students and researchers within the areas of politics, peace studies, human rights law, anthropology, and contemporary philosophy. The volume is...successful in accomplishing its objectives in that it both provides an extensive mapping of the research territory of transitional justice and produces in-depth and thorough analysis of its different aspects.''

— Political Studies Review, Volume 3, number 2, April 2005, 2005
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About the Authors

Carol Prager

Carol A.L. Prager is an associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary.

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Trudy Govier

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